Remaining Employable when Unemployed

Shuyi Chua
5 min readJun 9, 2020
Photo by David Siglin on Unsplash

I recently got to know Chris, who told me that he had never had to write a single resume or cover letter of all the years he has been working. The jobs were always offered to him. He has been in the food and farming industry and is currently writing a memoir on his experience!

He told me he pursues what interests him through attending events and speaking to people to find out directly from them about what they do. He is a polite, passionate, curious, and capable young man. And I understand how anyone who speaks to him might be keen to have him on board and part of their plans and team.

One of the undesired consequences of losing your job or being unemployed for an extended period is that you begin to lose your network of contacts who would usually facilitate your job search efforts. Chris, who naturally likes connecting with people, did not have such a problem, as he remained within his network even at times when he may be unemployed.

There is a phenomenon in the world of economics called ‘hysteresis.’ This word means to lag. It is used to describe how the unemployed continue to remain unemployed even when opportunities become available because of what happens to them during their initial unemployment.

Here’s what possibly can happen: During this long break, the lack of opportunities to use one’s skills eventually leads to the erosion of these skills. Also, the lack of contact with former classmates and colleagues (and new friends) leads to a disconnect with the people who can open doors for one.

Should we eventually like to return to the workforce, how can we, the unemployed, remedy or prevent ‘hysteresis’ from happening to us?

You may have taken a career break, like what I did last year, be retrenched from your job, as many have during this pandemic, or be delayed in securing your first job fresh out of graduation. Whatever your situation, how can we keep ourselves meaningfully occupied to avoid ‘hysteresis’ from happening to us?

It is important to continue to use and upgrade your skills in one way or another. Whether it’s taking up a small part-time opportunity or starting to freelance or picking up new skills — do it even as you are not employed.

Shuyi Chua

Lover of books and writing. Curious about life and people. Writes devotionals for the weary soul.